We all want to be able to fill up on satisfying foods without gaining weight, right? We want to eat foods that make fat loss, well, easier—without feeling deprived. We want to eat foods that taste great and burn extra calories for us. We want fat-burning foods.
But the fact is, unless we have a calorie deficit—that is, eating fewer calories than we burn—fat loss just isn’t possible. Fortunately, there are some foods that can help tilt the scale in our favor. You read that right. There are certain foods we may be able to eat a bit more liberally while still abiding by the law of thermodynamics so we can enjoy greater fat loss.
For instance, there are foods that require more calories to be burned during the digestion process compared to others. Other foods can stoke our metabolic rate. And others that help us build more lean muscle mass, which naturally increases metabolic rate.
So, what fat-burning foods should you fill your plate with to help with your fat-loss goals? Let’s find out…
The Top 9 Fat-Burning Foods List
1. Wild salmon
One of the healthiest sources of both protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and other cold-water fatty fish (e.g., sardines or mackerel) may help us build lean mass and increase fat burning. Meals with proteins and fats also help you feel full and satisfied, and that means you’ll be less likely to be hungry and have cravings after including salmon in a meal. 1 Try this Everything Bagel-Crusted Salmon recipe for a meal that’s sure to impress as it fights fat.
2. Eggs (preferably organic, pasture-raised)
Another rich source of protein, eggs are also a healthy source of the fat-burning nutrient choline, which may help decrease belly fat. Eggs also help stave off hunger. One study found that men who ate eggs instead of bagels were less hungry after 3 hours and ate fewer calories over the next 24 hours. 2 There are so many delicious ways to enjoy eggs—scrambled, hard-boiled, sunny side up, for example. Or, try them oven-baked with this Hole in One recipe.
3. Black beans
We’ve mentioned resistant starch before. It’s an indigestible starch (like a form of fiber) that both increases metabolic rate and energy expenditure (among numerous other benefits). Black beans, pinto beans, and chickpeas have all been identified among the best sources of resistant starch (about 3 to 5 g/100 g dry weight) when cooled after cooking (e.g., allowed to sit for 15 to 30 minutes). 3 Black beans also provide a healthy serving of protein, and a one-cup serving delivers roughly 5 grams of soluble fiber, a fat-fighting nutrient that has been shown to be inversely related to levels of belly fat. In other words, more soluble fiber is associated with less belly fat. All of these benefits put them in the fat-burning foods category!
Loaded with fiber and polyphenol antioxidants, berries have been shown to help increase feelings of fullness as well as support stable blood sugar levels. 4 Plus, they’re perfect for satisfying those sweet cravings or when you need a convenient snack. Try this simple Super Smoothie Bowl.
Another food that’s loaded with fiber (nearly 5 grams, including 2 grams of soluble fiber), antioxidants, and water, apples also provide pectin, which can slow down how long it takes for food to leave the stomach, helping you feel full for longer. 5 For a sweet treat that’s also low-carb and keto-friendly, you can’t go wrong with this Apple Tart.
While the Grapefruit Diet isn’t all it’s juiced up to be, there is research that supports grapefruit’s reputation as a fat-burning food. For example, a 2004 study found that participants who ate a half a grapefruit with each meal lost, on average, 3 ½ pounds, and many of the participants lost over 10 pounds during the 12-week study. 6 For a mouth-watering fat-burning combination, try this Grapefruit Avocado Salsa.
Whether in guacamole, a topping for toast, or sliced on top of your favorite salad, avocados are a popular fat-burning food, as they’re loaded with vitamin B6, fiber, and monounsaturated fat, which may help enhance fat burning and suppress hunger. One study found that when avocado was added to lunch, satisfaction was increased by 23%, and there was a 40% decrease in desire to eat for hours after the meal. 7 While you can simply add avocado (diced, sliced, or any way you like) to numerous recipes, one of my favorites is this Sunny-Side Up Avocado Toast. It’s perfect for a weekend brunch.
8. Sweet potatoes
High in fiber, carotenoids, antioxidants, vitamins like A, C, and B6, sweet potatoes tend to be considered a slower-digesting source of carbohydrates, which means blood sugar levels fluctuate to a lesser degree, you stay full longer, and they provide more sustained energy. 8 Try these decadent yet surprisingly healthy sweet potato “fries.”
9. Coconut oil
A fat that makes you skinny? A fat that fights belly fat? That’s the big claim for this tropical oil. While you do still have to maintain the above-mentioned calorie deficit, with a combination of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) and lauric acid, coconut oil may actually live up to its reputation as one of the fat-burning foods. In one study, participants added either two tablespoons of coconut oil or soybean oil to a reduced-calorie diet, which was combined with daily walking for 50 minutes. Not surprisingly, both groups lost weight. However, only the coconut oil group enjoyed a reduction in their waistlines. 9 Add some coconut oil to your diet with these sinfully delicious Samoa Bars.
Other Natural Fat Burners
Of course, this is just a partial list of fat-burning foods that may fuel your success. As you navigate other food choices, look for foods that are:
- Rich in Fiber. Fiber can increase feelings of fullness and satisfaction, decrease hunger and cravings, and help support healthy blood sugar levels, which can all contribute to reducing overall food intake.
- High in Protein. Protein increases feelings of satiety, takes longer to digest, and requires more energy to be digested (i.e., boosts metabolism). 10
- Blood Sugar-Friendly. Foods that lead to larger increases in blood sugar and insulin tend to dysregulate energy levels, appetite control, and even fat metabolism. So, by decreasing blood sugar spikes and crashes, you may help regulate your body weight.
While this blog article is about fat-burning foods, we would be remiss if we failed to mention spices as well. Cayenne pepper–more specifically, the capsaicin it contains–for example, has been shown to help speed fat loss by boosting metabolic rate. 11 It may also help suppress appetite. 12
What you drink can also help enhance fat loss. Some fat-burning beverages to fill your cup with include white, green, and oolong teas as well as coffee. And, of course, water tops the charts!
While we’ll never be able to eat “whatever we want, as much as we want” without consequence, there are numerous fat-burning foods we can add to the menu to enjoy yummy, truly satisfying recipes while staving off weight gain. Enjoy!